On Record Store Day I witnessed TVAM hand over a tape to Mary Anne Hobbs. Whether that was the pivotal moment in Lauren Laverne naming him as her BBC 6Music recommendation of the week I’m unsure. Like The Cocteau Twins, the Wigan-based solo musician buries his voice under his distinctive brand of genre-defying industrial noise.

The music alone though is just one part of the TVAM project, with much emphasis placed on his live visual performance. In huge contrast to the high-paced online world we now live in, TVAM starts every performance by rolling out a trolley with a vintage TV and VHS player on it. The material played on screen to the audience comes from videos picked up from charity shops and TVAM’s childhood collection.

However, it was the music alone that grabbed the attention of Lauren Laverne when she first heard the ‘Gas & Air/ Cannibals’ double A-Side single released on local record labels Blak Hand/Static Caravan Records. It is much the same for everyone in the half-full Gullivers for this Sunny Manchester and Blak Hand Records extravaganza when TVAM first steps on stage 45 minutes later than scheduled.

I hedge a bet that the first song is ‘Porsche Majeure’, TVAM’s imagined soundtrack to a   car commercial. It certainly seems to fit the bill, with a literal driving bass line overlaid with TVAM’s submerged indecipherable vocals, with words on the screen helping to illuminate the lyrics for us. It’s a good start and the visuals of cars crashing on screen only entrances us further.

The hypnotic suspense is stripped away in the next number when TVAM opts for a more punk indebted number, plugging his guitar without any mercy and allowing his vocals to hit some higher notes on the register. It’s less immersive as the first song, but shows off TVAM’s unique skill to flit between genres and to continuously surprise the audience.

The pictures then turn green as TVAM gives us our first sci-fi track of the night. It has Kraftwerk-esque industrial synths, which TVAM completely buries his vocals under reverting to the deeper tones heard on tonight’s first song. We’re then back in punk rock world for ‘Cannibals’ which has the frenetic rough quality of an early Joy Division bootleg, and in the true punk ethic clocks on at just under two minutes.

We are then flung straight into TVAM’s most popular track yet ‘Gas and Air’. A storm trooping riff forms its arc, but it does break into some lovely keys towards the end. It certainly ramps up in the energy in the room for tonight’s fittingly titled finale ‘Total Immersion’, a full on psyche-out that’s awash with heavy reverb. Tonight definitely wasn’t perfect but TVAM’s effortless ability to flit between genres and captivate an audience unsure of his every move will mean plenty of crowds will be able to hold on for extra 40 minutes to see this groundbreaking music. Well worth the wait.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.